John Wayles Eppes to Francis Eppes

My dear Son,

I received your last letter & feel some pleasure in observing the progress you are making—Your hand writing is much changed for the better & your style so much improved as to excite not surprise merely but heartfelt satisfaction—I look forward with great anxiety to the period of your entering some university where your Education may be completed and yourself qualified to occupy some station in society honorable to yourself and beneficial to your fellow citizens—You should keep constantly in mind that something above mediocrity will be expected from the Grand son of Jefferson—and that on the employment of a few remaining years depends the estimation in which you will be held by your fellow citizens during a long life which I hope you are destined to enjoy—How many with all the necessary Talents to possess respectability sink into obscurity & even wretchedness from squandering the precious period between sixteen and twenty one—In speaking of time squandered I include not what is passed in rational & Intelligent society—Your hours of relaxation passed in genteel and enlightened society will afford advantages in your future intercourse with the world, which will continue through life—Friendship and intimacy contracted with young men of your own age who aspire to intelectual distinction will strengthen your understanding and improve your heart, while an intimacy contracted with those who place their happiness in the gratification of the senses will afford you no aid in your progress through life, & detatch you at present from your pursuits which are useful without the possibility of deriving any advantage—As a general rule we need not expect Talents or worth from him who places his greatest happiness in early life in what are called Tavern indulgencies—These sinks of corruption have destroyed more young men of virtue and good Talents than all the other vices which stain the human character—The sociability and mirth which accompanies Tavern indulgencies is but too apt to facinate the youthful mind—The effect is gradual but always certain—The habit of industry and attention is lost & the fumes of one debauch succeed so rapidly to those of another that the vigour of the mind is lost—Seek therefore my son enlightened society—amiable men and women & shun such as are fond of debauchery & riot—whether young or old—

We have had here for two days Mr Cadwallader Jones of North CarolinaDoctr Peck and his lady—They are all well at your Uncle BakersWayles had received no letter from you—

adieu my son accept the best wishes of your affectionate father.
Jno: W: Eppes
RC (DLC: Personal Papers, Misc.); addressed: “Mr Francis Eppes Junr New-London”; stamped; postmarked Raines Tavern, 15 Aug.